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Deborah Ward accepts Athens State award

MADISON – A resident dedicated to helping people in both physical and spiritual needs has received an award from her college alma mater.

Deborah Ward received the “Outstanding Alumna Achievement in Business Award” from Athens State University. Ward accepted her honor at a ceremony by ASU Foundation and Alumni Association this spring.

Ward was nominated for overseeing outreach at Inside-Out Ministries, which serves adults in times of urgent need. One-time assistance helps with minor home repairs (not remodeling), like a hot-water leak. “Our seniors struggle just to make it under normal circumstances,” Deborah said.

Inside-Out also has assisted in hurricane recovery, school initiatives and hosted the Community Thanksgiving Dinner. Disaster relief can include emergency food, hygiene and cleaning supplies.

Ward was surprised and grateful to receive her award. “Athens State has a special place in my heart, helping me learn in depth about business, giving me confidence in the validity of education and encouraging me even as a female to move forward.”

The Ward family all earned degrees at ASU. “I began at Athens State as a non-traditional student, married with two children and a full-time job. I graduated with honors in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration,” Deborah said.

Husband Larry graduated in religious studies; he retired in 2017 as Electrical Design Engineer on the International Space Station with The Boeing Company. Daughter Alyson Durrett majored in elementary education, and daughter Amy Thaxton in language arts.

Alyson teaches fourth-graders at Columbia Elementary School; husband Clay works in IT at Westminster Christian Academy. Their sons are Bryson, 12; Alex, 9; and C.J., 4.

Amy is Assistant Principal at Bob Jones High School; husband Wade teaches at Horizon Elementary School and coaches Bob Jones swimming and dive. Their children are Tatum, 8, and Ward, 4.

“We’ve often thought of ourselves as part of all of Madison’s clubs. We’ve had the privilege of sharing about Inside-Out at most, and they’ve all welcomed us,” Deborah said. “CrossPointe Church has been our home for 12 years.”

From city contacts, “Lillie Causey and Joyce Vaughn were both influential and displayed characteristics of caring leadership, no matter the task,” Deborah said. “They both cared so much for employees because they cared for them as people first.”

At Inside-Out, many others impressed Deborah. “Larry is the core, but one volunteer, Lydia Butler, brought wisdom and quality to us by always giving encouragement to some who often doubted their abilities. Lydia assured them of their worth and value. Her passing hit us all very hard; was 57 years young.”

“Lillie, Joyce and Lydia will always be special in my heart,” Deborah said.

“My hobby is my family. It’s the most fun. I’m always trying to figure out what, when and how to get us together again,” Deborah said.

After Inside-Out reduced hours, the Wards have enjoyed the North Carolina mountains, Billy Graham Library and The Cove, along with the beach. “Who knows where else we’ll go in 2019?” Deborah said.

To donate items or time to Inside-Out, email


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